The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 110 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Paul Bettany, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Sophie Okonedo
Written & Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd
Music by: Mark Isham
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 3, 2009
"Bring Your Girlfriends, Sisters, Mothers and Daughters"
Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning head a stellar ensemble cast in this wonderful film about family, independence and the transcendent power of love (Minneapolis Star Tribune) based on the acclaimed best-selling novel. To escape her cruel, angry father - and discover the truth about her late mother's past - 14-year old Lily Owens flees with her caregiver and friend Rosaleen to a South Carolina town where she's taken in by the bee-keeping Boatwright sisters. Surrounded by the unexpected love, grace and spirituality she encounters there, Lily forms a bond with each of these uniquely gifted women and discovers that sometimes you must leave home in order to find it.
The film is set in the rural south during the mid 1960's right around the time President Johnson signed the civil rights bill. A 14 year old girl named Lily (Fanning) lives with her father T. Ray (Bettany) and longs for her mother who died 10 years earlier in a bizarre accident. She remembers little about her mother but has a few keepsakes, one of which is a symbol of a black (African American) Madonna with Tiburon, SC written on the back. T. Ray is tough on Lily and they have shared a strained relationship over the last 10 years. Her friend/house keeper Rosaleen (Hudson) is arrested after standing up to a group of racist locals who confront them in town. Rosaleen is beaten and hospitalized afterward. T. Ray and Lily have a bitter argument over the incident and she decides to leave. She helps Rosaleen sneak out of the hospital and they head to Tiburon. They end up at the house of the Boatright sisters after Lily sees a jar of honey in a local grocery store window that has the same symbol of the Madonna. The store clerk tells them that the honey is made locally by the Boatright sisters who are colored women which is why the Madonna on the label is colored. August (Latifah), May (Okonedo) and June (Keys) live together on 22 acres in a large bright pink (think Pepto Bismol) house. August is a beekeeper and oversees the production of the honey which is well known locally. Lily makes up a story about where they are heading and August agrees to take them in temporarily with the understanding that they will work for room and board. While there Lily forms a bond with August who shows her how the process of making the honey is done. She meets Zack, an ambitious young black boy and the two become close. Staying with these women Lily experiences compassion, love and understanding that she has never felt before. She also makes a startling discovery about her mother that provides her with the answers she has desperately been seeking.
I went into this review with very little knowledge about this film other than the fact that it is based on a best selling novel of the same name. My teenage daughter mentioned that it is on one of the summer reading lists for her high school English class. This Blu-ray Disc contains both the Theatrical and Director's cuts of the film. I watched the Theatrical version during my evlauation. I liked the film's message and thought that the cast gave credible performances. While there were aspects of the story that felt genuine from a historical standpoint I felt that the writer's vision of the south in 1964 was a bit too rose colored at times. There were portions that appeared to accurately depict the racial tensions of the time and others where it was downplayed and almost seemed a non issue. This isn't necessarily supposed to be a movie about racial conflict however seeing as it is set in the south during the 1960's it can't help but touch on them. I think it should be portrayed consistently and in accordance with the movie's theme. It didn't adversely affect the focus of the film but made it feel a bit too warm and fuzzy at times. I felt that the screenplay left a few holes in the story that were more than likely addressed in the book. None of these involved major plot points and had more to do with character/story development. Overall I found The secret life of bees to be a heartwarming film with strong female characters that were presented in an encouraging and positive light.
The rating is for thematic material and some violence.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The secret life of bees comes to Blu-ray from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 mbps.
This is a reference quality video presentation that boasts resplendent colors that are rich in depth and vividly saturated. Skin tones are beautifully rendered with lustrous quality and excellent tonal variation. Contrast and brightness are well balanced, blacks are stable and dynamic and depth perception in dark scenes is appreciable. Images are exquisitely detailed with lucid refinement and resolution that is presented with a near infinite level of depth.
The soundtrack doesn't make regular use of the entire system but the surround mix is appropriate for the source material and quite good overall. Sounds across the front soundstage have broad depth with wide dispersion that makes them clearly definable. Dialogue is center stage with noticeably rich vocal character and crisp articulate detail. Main channel directional pans are tightly focused and seamlessly match the events onscreen. Low level background details are mixed to the surrounds with precision and integrate well with the front channels to create a subtle but enriching soundfield. The exterior sequences brought the sounds of nature into the room with pinpoint imaging and effective realism. Music is reproduced with superlative clarity and subtle refinement that highlighted the texture in the strings of the cello and the smooth, strident free treble of the acoustic guitar. This was a top notch audio/video presentation that looked and sounded superb.
- Contains both the Theatrical and Directors cuts of the film
- Commentary by Director Gina Prince-Bythewood, Producers Lauren Shuler Donner, and Joe Pichirallo, Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah
- Commentary by Director Gina Prince-Bythewood and Editor Terilyn Shropshire
- (HD) 8 Deleted scenes with optional Director/Editor commentary
- (HD) Adaptation: Bringing The secret life of bees to the big screen - 12 documentary
- (HD) The women and men of The secret life of bees - 16 minute documentary
- (HD) Inside the pink house with Author Sue Monk Kidd - 10 minute featurette
- (HD) Beekeeping 101 - 7 minute documentary on the school where in the cast trained to work with bees
- (HD) Life on the set - 9 minute Making of documentary
- (HD) The world premier
The secret life of bees is a heartwarming film that is adopted from the award winning novel by author Sue Monk Kidd. I found it to be entertaining but its script didn't necessarily add up to the sum of its parts. The cast did a fine job and the movie was captured beautifully on film. Its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Fox looks absolutely stunning with great sound quality and a mildly interesting set of bonus supplements. Recommend for fans.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD55K Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package